Barakzai is one of the most recognized female political leaders in Afghanistan. She could not walk the streets of Kabul without being stopped by the people. Moreover, she spent a lot of time criticizing the Taliban and the war veterans who were elected to parliament with her.
So, she was always surrounded by bodyguards, and rolled in a bulletproof car. It saved her in 2014 when she was attacked by a Taliban suicide bomber who blew up her car.
– I will never forget the deafening explosion. I still think of the three innocent people who were killed outside my car, the activist told NRK on Skype.
He is one of more than 100,000 Afghans deported from Afghanistan in recent weeks. The mother of five saw the chaos at the airport in Kabul after reports that the Taliban had captured the city on Sunday, August 15.
– I overcame the cry of grief to get two tickets to Turkey for my husband and me.
Relieved, they boarded a flight to Istanbul. But they know little about what awaits them. Outside the plane’s window, he saw a sea of people on the runway.
– People boarded the plane from all sides. Finally, people sat on top of each other in the aisle. There was room for 350 passengers, but there were 600 of them. That is an unreal scene.
The captain refused to take off with the crowded plane. Several passengers were armed. The pilot turned off the engine and lights and decided to leave the plane.
Also on board were several top Afghans, Taliban critics, ministers, activists and journalists. At 35 degrees Celsius, 600 people sat in the dark on the plane without air conditioning.
– It is very claustrophobic. We couldn’t breathe there. But we did not dare to leave the plane for fear of the Taliban.
Hunted by the Taliban
Seven hours later, people realized the plane was about to land. Baraxa and her husband snuck out of the airport and went into hiding the next day.
– I was in touch with the British MPs and they worked hard to get the British soldiers out of us, he says.
Meanwhile, the Taliban critic had to hide from the Taliban, claiming he was hunting himself down.
– My friends told me they came to my house. We slept in different places every night. I finally realized that they were monitoring me electronically. They appeared near our last hideout. I saw through a small window that Taliban militants had entered the house next door. They were a few meters away from me.
After playing cat and mouse with the Taliban for five days, the good news finally came from Britain: the former politician and man were taken out of the airport and expelled on a British military plane.
– We are safe now, thanks to the efforts of my fellow MPs in London, but I have a lot of families in Kabul. They are in a very dangerous situation.
Calling the president a traitor
From security in Britain, to the outspoken ex-politician why everything went wrong – why the organization that helped build stone by stone, for 20 years, collapsed like a house of cards.
– We were ruled by a mafia. We had miserable leaders. They were so overwhelmed by their power that they completely lost touch with the people and their needs. He says it was exploited by the Taliban.
Activist blames leader Ashraf Ghani for the unrest in Kabul.
– Why did he escape? He said he went to save his people from further suffering. Does he really think we buy those things? He may have contacted the UN and said he would resign if he felt he could not really keep the country together. When he at least saved the Afghans from great suffering.
– Many Afghans see the former president as a traitor. Do you agree with that?
The 49-year-old was appointed Afghanistan’s ambassador to Norway in 2016. He moved to Oslo with his four children. The difference between the dangerous Kabul and the quiet Picto would not have been so great, where she settled in a separate house near Hugh. All measures taken to protect the guards and his life are over.
– You were appointed ambassador by the same president you condemn today. Would many say you were part of the organization you were criticizing?
– I was appointed ambassador because the president knew he could not protect me in Kabul after the suicide attack. Besides, I did not serve the president, but my people. I tried to represent Norway-Afghanistan as much as I could, and strengthened the relationship between Norway and Afghanistan. That’s wrong, the former ambassador asks.
Criticism of the United States
The women’s rights activist believes the United States has thrown the Afghan people under the bus and served Afghanistan a plateau for the Taliban.
– I blamed the whole Western world for giving the Taliban some sort of recognition when the Taliban started negotiating with them in Qatar. As a result of 20 years of efforts in Afghanistan and internationally, trillions of dollars and human suffering have been thrown into the boat. The Taliban were replaced by the Taliban. How can America justify it?
– The Taliban claimed to have created peace and order and promised to form an interim government comprising ethnic and religious minorities. Do you not believe these promises?
– No, I do not trust the Taliban. They say one thing to the international media because they want to be recognized by that world. Then they contact the local media for something else. Then they repeat something completely different in practice. There is a long distance between words and action.
– Make demands on the Taliban
Despite the distrust, Barakzai believes that the Taliban should not be placed in the freezer of the international community, as was the case in the 1990s. At the time, Afghanistan was a Baria state, she believes, a country that no one recognized and wanted to do something.
Lack of development and development assistance led to great public suffering. Isolation, among other things, made Afghanistan a hotbed of international terrorism. Extremists gathered from all over the world. Paroxysm fears the same thing could happen again.
– I am a realist. We may like it or hate it, but the truth is, the Taliban are in power now. We can talk to them and hold them accountable by making demands. Or, we may continue to criticize them. But what does criticism really lead to? Nothing, says the feminist before proceeding.
Western nations must recognize all that the Taliban deserve, and demand, among other things, respect for basic human rights.
He firmly believes that women in Afghanistan will not give up the rights they have won in the last 20 years.
– The Taliban are occupying a completely different country. I don’t think women will be denied the opportunity of education or work for themselves. They will probably not be as loud as before, but I hope they will stand up for their demands.
– Do you think you will return to Afghanistan?
– My body is only in Europe. My thoughts and my soul are left in Afghanistan. If I promise that the Taliban will not do me or my family any harm, I will fly to Kabul on the next flight.